Earth Day Part 2 - Making the Switch

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

In our quest to make our home more eco-friendly, we came up with a two part plan that focused on both the inside and the outside of our house. I talked last week about the changes we made to the outside, so I figured today I would share what we were doing indoors.

Unfortunately, we didn't have it in the budget this year to purchase completely new high efficiency appliances for the entire house like I would have liked (a girl can dream, right?) So instead, we decided that an overhaul to our household cleaning supplies was a more more realistic goal that would still mean big changes that were better for both our bodies and the environment.

I can't lie, I was a little nervous at first. I can be a bit of a germaphobe at times and my standby cleaners have always been Clorox wipes and Lysol sprays, so making the switch to all natural, environemtally safe products was not going to be easy. But after everything I have been reading over the years about the controversy over Triclosan (the common active ingredient in antibacterial soaps), the dangers of some common household cleaning products, and how toxic these cleaners can be for both the environment and our health, I knew we had to make some changes.

I started by pulling out as many of our current cleaning products as I could find and gathering them on our kitchen table. I was a bit overwhelmed and surprised by how many different products I actually use. For the bathrooms alone I had six different items: Clorox toilet bowl cleaner, Clorox surface wipes, Windex, tile spray cleaner with bleach, Scrubbing Bubbles, and swiffer wet jet for the floors. I made a mental note that simplifying our stash would also be a major proiority. If there was an eco-friendly product out there that could do multiple jobs, I was going to find it. Anything to reduce the pile of stuff taking up space in our hall closets!

After gathering everything together and figuring out what I needed to replace, it was time to start finding alternatives. I began doing some research, and of course reading a bunch of awesome blogs (by far the most helpful was Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship), about what kinds of eco-friendly products were out there and what really worked. I didn't want to fork over a bunch of cash for a new product that was only going to leave me frustrated with the results. I came up with a pretty good list of products that covered just about all of the areas of our home. What surprised me is how few items I needed. It came down to this:

1. Vinegar
2. Hydrogen peroxide
3. Baking soda
4. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Liquid Dish Soap
5. BioKleen Automatic Dish Powder
6. BioKleen Bac-Out
7. Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner
8. Soap Nuts
9. DIY Orange Power Cleaner

For the WHOLE HOUSE. I was shocked.

To break it down a little further (and to make sure I had everything covered) I made a list of how I would use the products in all the different areas of our home.

For the mirrors/windows/glass
Vinegar/Water 50:50 mixture spray bottle and newspaper to wipe clean

For the Bathtub/shower
Straight vinegar as an after-shower spray (smell is completely gone after it dries)
Scrub with baking soda for soap scum/stains (this works wonders)

For the Toilets
Surface cleaning - Hydrogen Peroxide/Water 50:50 mixture and microfiber cloths
Seven Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner

For Tile Floors
Mop with Vinegar/Water (No more than 1/4 cup in 32oz spray bottle)

For the Counters/Surface cleaning
BioKleen Bac-Out
For sanitizing - Vinegar/Water mixutre
For deep disinfecting - first Vinegar/Water Mixture, second Peroxide/Water mixture
For stains around faucets and sinks - Baking soda and a toothbrush

For Carpet/Pet Stains
BioKleen Bac-Out

For Oven Stains
Baking soda or salt scrub
DIY Orange Power Cleaner to cut grease

For handwashing dishes
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Liquid Dish Soap

For dishwasher
BioKleen Automatic Dish Powder
Vinegar as a JetDry substitute

Soap Nuts (full review here)
Clothing Stains - BioKleen Bac-Out
DIY Wool Dryer Balls

With only NINE new products, I was be able to clean our entire home and reduce our impact on the environment. I say "was" because for our Spring cleaning project this year, these were the only products I used. I gave them their very first test run a few weeks ago and I literally have zero complaints so far. I love them all!

One of my favorite products is the BioKleen Bac-Out. It had such great reviews online that I couldn't wait to try it. And when I finally got to test it out, I became a believer. I love it for many reasons but mainly because it can be used in so many areas of the house. It's great for cleaning the counters, sinks, stains on our rugs, stains in our clothes, and so many other surfaces in the house. As Katie says, it "kills germs, fights stains, [is] gentle on surfaces – what more do you need?"

The Soap Nuts are probably the biggest (but also most satisfying) change. I'm so used to just dumping in a cap full of detergent in every load and now I'm using a little bag of nuts from a plant to do the same job. It's so strange but they work so well! Although they may be a little intimidating since they are so different, they're really not difficult to use at all. Katie's review also really helped me to understand a bit more about how the nuts actually work and how to tell when to change them out for fresh ones.

If you are looking to try a few of these products yourself, you can check out the links I have posted above. The best place to get the soap nuts is Naturoli - they've got great deals and they explain everything in detail on their website too, for those that may have more questions. For the rest of the products, I got most of them from and I plan to keep going back there when I run out in the future. They had so many great coupon codes and deals that I literally got 10 items (I bought multiples of some things) for only $25 and free shipping. You really can't beat it!


  1. Love this post! My favorite natural cleaning product is vinegar too! It's amazing how such simple everyday household products can serve so many purposes!

    1. I know, I was shocked to see how great of a job it does in so many areas of the house! Hoping your little girl makes her entrance into the world soon!! :)

  2. Replies
    1. You inspired me Jenn! All your information on cleaning products really made me want to make this the year I jumped into it head on! Thanks for your help! :)

  3. Laura, I love this post! I love natural cleaning products! I cant wait to start using soap nuts! I'm planning on using them for cloth diapers when the baby arrives. I use Better Life cleaning product for when i don't have time to make them.
    It cleans so much better than commercial ones I used. But vinegar with some lemon or tea tree essential oils are my go to disinfectant for everything. I also use vinegar and water to wash produce.

    1. Thanks so much Brittany! You'll love the soap nuts I'm sure of it :) And thanks for the link, I'll definitely have to check it out!